The Patient Experience Team is continuing to operate during the current pandemic. However, the NHS is facing significant challenges with regard to the COVID-19 virus.
CCG staff are meeting this challenge in a variety of different ways to maintain good quality care for patients. This may impact on the ability of the Patient Experience Team to provide a response to your concerns within normal timescales. This is because the Patient Experience Team rely on CCG clinical staff to take an overview of care and to respond to specific issues raised through the team.
For the foreseeable future our clinical staff will be focused solely on their clinical responsibilities and will have very limited time for administrative duties. For this reason, there may be a delay in you receiving a response.
Frequently Asked Questions
From Monday 31 March 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement supported all NHS providers to ‘pause’ new and ongoing complaints investigations, to allow providers to concentrate on front-line duties and responsiveness to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Why are you doing this?
This decision was taken mainly due to clinical staff, including GPs, needing to prioritise front line patient care.
We are sorry we have to temporarily pause the complaints process, but we will resume it as soon as possible.
What does ‘pausing’ actually mean?
A ‘paused’ complaint will not be investigated or responded to during the pause period. Complaints will remain open until further notice, unless an informal resolution can be achieved, the complaint can be responded to with information available at that time, or if the complainant chooses to withdraw their complaint.
Can I still raise a new complaint?
Yes, organisations should make sure patients and the public are still able to raise concerns or make a complaint. However, complainants should expect there to be a delay in investigating and responding to their complaint.
All providers should continue to acknowledge and log complaints, and process them if they relate to patient safety, practitioner performance or safeguarding, and take immediate action where necessary.
Can I still contact PALS?
Yes, assuming the NHS organisation you are contacting has a PALS team.
Will all NHS organisations ‘pause’ their complaints process?
All NHS organisations have been given the option of pausing the complaints process – this includes NHS England, hospital trusts, GP and dental practices, pharmacists, and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). However, the ‘pause’ is not enforced, therefore some organisations may continue to deliver their complaints process in the usual way
Can you make an exception for my case?
We have asked providers to be mindful of their responsibility to support vulnerable people who may be distressed by work pausing on their complaint. In these cases, providers should continue to ensure appropriate action is taken where they can, as well as signposting to an organisation who may be able to provide support.
We have also asked providers to give consideration to complainants who, at the time of the ‘pause’, have waited an excessive amount of time for their response (specifically those who have waited six months or more). These should be reviewed to decide if and how these can be resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction.
How long will the ‘pause’ period last?
The initial ‘pause’ period will be for three months from Tuesday 31 March to Tuesday 30 June 2020.
Can I still take my complaint to the Ombudsman?
You are entitled to raise your complaint with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. However, please note the Ombudsman is currently not accepting any new complaints about the NHS because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is to help make sure the NHS can focus its resources on providing urgent healthcare. You can find out more information on the Ombudsman’s website.
How is the pause being communicated to the public?
Information regarding the pause is available on our website here. Stakeholder organisations, including Healthwatch and complaints advocacy services, have been informed of the pause.
Organisations, which are pausing their complaints process, should also communicate with the public, such as contact existing complainants to notify them of the pause.
Have you consulted patients and the public?
These are exceptional times and the normal consultation and engagement opportunities have been severely limited. This is an operational decision to pause and not a decision to stop handling cases. Cases may still be dealt with as appropriate – issues relating to patient safety, practitioner performance or safeguarding will result in immediate action being taken where necessary.
I would like to make a complaint about the pause – how can I do this?
You are entitled to make a complaint about the decision to pause the complaints process. However, you should expect there to be a delay to any response until the ‘pause’ period has finished.
What we do
The NHS can sometimes be complicated to understand. As a patient, relative or carer you may sometimes need to turn to someone for help, advice and support and this is where the Patient Experience Team can help.
- Offer confidential help and advice.
- Give guidance on the NHS complaints procedure.
- Give advice on where to direct your NHS complaint.
- Provide information about local health services and support groups.
- Signpost to other organisations such as Independent Advocacy and other patient experience services.
Making a complaint about NHS treatment and care
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group commission hospital care, mental health services, out of hours services, NHS 111 and some community health care services, for example audiology, from provider organisations. We do not provide health care direct to patients.
If your complaint relates to NHS treatment and care you are advised to complain directly to that service provider’s complaints team.
Hospitals and Community Trusts have teams, usually referred to as the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), to help patients, carers and relatives with enquiries or concerns. These teams can:
PALS act confidentially when handling patient and family concerns, liaising with staff, managers and, where appropriate, relevant organisations to provide solutions.
If the PALS team are unable to resolve your concerns you have the right to make a formal complaint and they can give guidance and advice on what you need to do.
The CCG ensures that it is kept informed of the complaints received by its providers and of improvements to services resulting from complaints.
If you are unhappy with a primary care service, such as your GP practice, optician, or pharmacist, you can complain either directly to the Practice Manager of the surgery or if you prefer to NHS England, the organisation which manages complaints for these services:
Making a complaint about a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG commissioning or funding decision
If you wish to make a complaint and you are registered with one of our GP practices, you should complain directly to the CCG on the following issues:
Commissioning decision, for example, if the CCG has stopped or replaced a service in your area.
Exceptional Funding process.
Continuing Healthcare Funding process.
The CCG Complaints Policy is presently under review. Please contact the PET team if you have any specific queries about policy or process.
What happens if I am still not satisfied?
If you are unhappy with the final response to your complaint and would like to take the matter further, you have the right to contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to ask them to investigate. It is important that you make your complaint to the Ombudsman as soon as you receive our final response as there are time limits for the Ombudsman to look into complaints
Telephone: 0345 015 4033.
By post: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP.
Who else can help me?
If you feel you need support in making your complaint, this is available through Total Voice Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Independent Health Complaints Advocacy. They provide a free, independent and confidential support for people who wish to make a complaint about the care they have received from the NHS. An Advocate can explain the complaints process and give guidance on writing an effective complaint letter and where appropriate you can have one to one advocacy support.
If you have a positive experience to share, we would like to pass on your compliments to the relevant staff and to share this within the organisation.
Have you used the Patient Experience Team?
If you have used the Patient Experience Team, we are interested in what you thought of our service. Your comments will help us to improve the service for the future. Please complete a short survey - you do not need to give us your name.
Patient stories - Your NHS journey
At our monthly Governing Body meetings we hear and discuss patient experiences regarding their NHS healthcare, referred to as a ‘patient story’. These stories are either read out by the patient, relative or carer, or they are anonymised and read out by an NHS staff member.
Patient stories bring experiences to life. They encourage the NHS to focus on the patient as whole person rather than just a clinical condition or as an outcome. Patient stories are often used in board meetings of organisations
The Governing Body members use patient stories as an opportunity to understand the impact of someone's experience on them, their family and carers. It helps see things through a patient's eyes and is often a very powerful way to start the meeting to influence the atmosphere in which the meeting takes place.
If you would like to share your ‘patient story’ with the CCG, please contact the Patient Experience Team to discuss this further.